Sangh Samachar

Tsundur massacre: 21 get life sentence

Posted in caste by ravi on August 2, 2007

This from The Hindu:

Twenty one persons have been sentenced to life imprisonment and 35 others one year’s rigorous imprisonment and a penalty of Rs. 2,000 each in the sensational Tsundur massacre case that rattled the nation. Eight Dalit persons were hacked to death in broad daylight on August 6, 1991, with over 400 persons chasing them on the road and along the bund of an irrigation canal, in Tsundur village of Guntur district … the judge acquitted 123 out of the 179 accused persons.

More from The Hindu:

It was for the final judgment that Mandu Tulasamma, a widow at Ambedkar Colony here, has been waiting with bated breath. Ever since she lost her two sons in the brutal carnage against Dalits unleashed by persons belonging to upper castes on August 6, 1991 in the village, she has been waiting for justice to be meted out to her.

And when Special Judge Anis pronounced the verdict, Tulasamma broke down. Quickly gaining her composure, she angrily said: I was denied justice, as the guilty have been let off. The perpetrators of the heinous crime would still roam freely in the village. Recalling the events on the fateful day, she said: There was no trace of my younger son the whole day. The next day, someone said that they had seen his body in a canal. My elder son Narayana broke down on hearing the news and he died of heart attack.

Kula Nirmoolana Porata Samithi district secretary K. Krishna said at least 100 of the accused were let off and his organisation would appeal in the High Court seeking justice.

Here’s something from the PUCL on the tardy progress made in this case. VB Rawat sets the massacre in context in this Sabrang article:

Just a year before the Tsundur massacre, the then Prime Minister VP Singh had announced the implementation of the Mandal Commission report on August 7, 1990, which the Hindu upper castes vociferously opposed. They took to the streets. The myth of Hindu tolerance stood exposed. Mandal may not have helped the Dalits but they were in fact the first to support it. During this process, as in other parts of the country, Andhra saw many Dalit groups joining hands with the OBCs. There were talks of a grand Bahujan alliance even in the villages.

Outraged by the growing self-assertiveness of Dalits, the upper castes were itching for an opportunity to teach the downtrodden a lesson. And the Tsundur massacre, among many other mass killings of Dalits, was an expression of this pent-up fury. Today, 13 years after the ghastly massacre, the Tsunduru Dalits face a challenge not only from the powerful Reddys locally but also their masters occupying powerful positions in the state. Andhra Pradesh politics has long been dominated by two powerful castes. The Reddys, who have ruled for the most part since Andhra came into being, and the Kammas, who formed the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to counter Reddy domination. Reddys are the dominant landowning community in Andhra Pradesh and Dalits have been the biggest victims of their feudal fantasies.

Here’s an account of the massacre, excerpted from Rawat’s article:

The government of Andhra Pradesh was under Reddy rule when the Tsundur massacre took place. Though the then chief minister, Janardhan Reddy happened to be Christian, a different faith makes no difference. Indians take their caste along with them when they shift their loyalties to other holy books and seers. Reddy’s government tried to quietly bury the gory incident but this did not work.

In all, nine people died in the August 6, 1991 attack. Their bodies were cut into pieces, put in gunny bags and thrown into Tungbhadra drainage as well as adjacent canals. Those who died were: Jaladi Mathaiah (40), Jaladi Imaneul (38), Jaladi Isaac (25), Mallela Subba Rao (35), A. Rajamohan (25), Sunkuru Samson (28), D. Jayaraj (30), Mundru Ramesh (21) and Mundru Parisudha Rao (35). Among the injured were Sambaiah (50), P. Jakraiah (52) and D. Dhanraj (25).

All the Dalits fled from the village following the killings. The murders were so brutal that Mundru Parisudha Rao, elder brother of Mundru Ramesh, who went to see the bodies at the hospital in Tenali, was so shocked that he died of a heart attack. A Dalit doctor who performed the post-mortem examination on the bodies in Tenali was said to have been so traumatised by the condition of the bodies that he later committed suicide. Many relatives became psychologically disturbed.

A survivor, P. Jakraiah, who is now around 75 years of age, is paralysed and has a memory problem. It is difficult for him to narrate the incidents that took place in 1991. When a badly injured Jakraiah had asked for water, they (Reddys) urinated in his hand. Even today, 13 years later, he gets agitated as he recalls that time.

Another Dalit who survived the lynching mob is D. Dhanraj. His story of survival is that of a brave and valiant man. A witness to the murder of five others, Dhanraj himself was beaten mercilessly. His legs and hands were broken and he was brought to a banana orchard owned by Munanaga Reddy, a physically disabled person. Dhanraj alleges that since Munanaga was incapable of running he could not participate in the mass lynching. Hence, to facilitate his participation in the carnage, Dhanraj was brought to Munanaga’s orchard near the canal. When a semi-conscious Dhanraj pleaded for water, those guarding him urinated in his hand. Shortly, his captors went to the nearby bridge across the canal, leaving Dhanraj in the field. A parched Dhanraj crawled towards the canal. Jumping into the canal, he was carried away with the current. About a kilometre downstream he heard the voices of his neighbours and some Dalit women who had come in search of their men and he cried out for help. They brought Dhanraj home and then took him to Tenali draped in a saree because the Reddys refused to allow any men to leave Tsundur even for medical treatment.

Also see: Hidden Apartheid: Caste Discrimination against India’s Untouchables

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